Sunday, April 11, 2010

Marathon Training Program: Week 15 - Taper Time!

(Graphic from my page at The mileage in the graphic includes both running and cycling miles.)

I'm going into taper with an amazing, breakthrough 21-mile run. Hal called for 20 miles at about 45 seconds/mile slower than race pace. I've been using 10:15 to 10:30 minutes/mile for my estimated race pace, so I set out to hold this one at 11:00 pace. I also wanted to use this run as a marathon "dry run" for all of the variables I could think of, including nutrition and hydration.

I set out to run 10 2-mile loops that took me past a water fountain at Rogers Park on the odd miles, and past my home on the even miles.  I left water bottles on my front porch; this let me grab a drink every mile, just like it will be with aid stations at the race.  I ate a Kashi energy bar and tanked up on Gatorade before I left, and stuffed a couple of Clif Shots and a package of Shot Bloks in my pockets.  I also wore the same shorts, singlet, socks and shoes that I plan to race in. 

I started out feeling great, and had to hold myself back to avoid exceeding the 11:00 pace through the mid teens.  I chewed on the Shot Bloks from around 5 miles through about 15. In the mid-teens, I got tired of holding myself back, and let myself speed up a little.  I kept waiting for it to get more difficult, but it never did! I don't mean difficult like all runs start to get in the teens. I mean legs screaming, feet throbbing, I-want-to-quit difficult. 16 came and went. I used one of my Clif Shots at 16, and never needed the second one. 18 came and went. On to 20, still didn't get any more difficult, and my 20 mile time was 13 minutes better than two weeks prior.  I still felt strong, so I decided to add an extra mile and see what I had left.  

I let loose on mile 21, and ran it in 8:23.  This was a total surprise, to be able to run an additional mile at record pace, after already running 20; my 5K PR pace is 8:37!  Overall 21 mile pace was 10:33.  It felt great to finish the core of the training schedule with a strong, confidence-building run like this. I finished with a 1-mile loop on my bicycle; it makes my legs feel so much better after running to add a brief cycling cooldown.  I have gradually added more cycling miles to my routine; it's a great form of cross-training for a runner.

Weekly totals: 51 miles running, 22.75 miles cycling, 73.75 miles total, plus three weights workouts and two core workouts:
  • Monday: Rest/cross-training: 6.75 miles cycling.
  • Tuesday: 5 miles running.
  • Wednesday: 10 miles running, 8 miles cycling.
  • Thursday: 5 miles running.
  • Friday: Rest: 6 miles easy cycling.
  • Saturday: 10 miles running, 1 mile cycling.
  • Sunday: 21 miles running, 1 mile cycling.
 15 weeks down, 3 taper weeks to go!

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